Food & Nutrition

14 Food Rules of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

The anti-inflammatory diet can help you achieve optimal health while also helping you fight disease. Top dietitians share which foods to eat more of and which to skip on this plan.

The rules of an anti-inflammatory diet

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What exactly is an anti-inflammatory diet? “It involves choosing whole, mostly plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, olive oil, and fatty fish,” says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, a nutritionist in New York City. She adds that it’s just as important to cut back on certain foods. Those eats include refined grains like white bread, sugary drinks and snacks, and processed meats.

“Research suggests that inflammation can be triggered by chronic stress, which can lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer’s,” says Maria Kinirons, RD, a dietitian in Dix Hills, New York. “Also, obesity has been linked as both a cause and the result of inflammation.” Keep in mind that the anti-inflammatory diet is a lifestyle, not a short-term solution.  Learn the difference between bad and good stress.

Eat wild salmon

12 Foods Cancer Docs Try to Never EatIryna Melnyk/Shutterstock

Along with other fatty fish, wild salmon boasts omega-3 fatty acids. “While you can get omega-3s from walnuts, flax, and other foods, the form in fish is much more bioavailable,” says Cassetty. What’s more, the omega-3s in fish have been found to lower inflammation and help protect your heart and brain. “Americans tend to under-consume omega-3s and overconsume omega-6s, found largely in certain vegetable oils,” says Cassetty. “The problem with this is that omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, so it’s really important to eat foods with omega-3s to shift this balance.”

Limit white rice

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“Compared to whole-grain rice, this takeout favorite causes blood sugar to spike more quickly,” says Therese Bonanni, MS, RDN, a nutritionist at Navesink Wellness Center in Rumson, New Jersey. “This can activate pro-inflammatory compounds known as cytokines.” So opt for brown or wild rice in your anti-inflammatory diet when you can. “Limiting refined grains helps decrease the inflammatory process by reducing the body’s insulin response, fanning the flames that may contribute to external reactions like eczema or psoriasis,” Bonanni adds. Keep an eye out for these foods that are bad news for your digestive system.

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